Localization of protein B23 in HeLa cells after treatment with luzopeptin A and its analogues was studied using indirect immunofluorescence. Bright nucleolar fluorescence was observed in control HeLa cells. After treatment with luzopeptin A (50 ng/ml), luzopeptin B (500 ng/ml), or luzopeptin D (10 ng/ml) for 2 h, uniform nucleoplasmic rather than specific nucleolar fluorescence was observed. Luzopeptin C had no effect on protein B23 translocation.

Luzopeptin D, A, and B inhibited [3H]uridine incorporation into the trichloroacetic acid insoluble fraction of HeLa cells with 50% inhibitory concentration values of 3.7 ± 1.1 (SD), 10.8 ± 2.1, and 122.0 ± 34.0 ng/ml, respectively. Less than 10% inhibition of [3H]uridine incorporation was found with luzopeptin C (500 ng/ml and 2 h incubation). Ribosomal RNAs (28 and 18S) were isolated from HeLa cells treated with luzopeptin D (50 ng/ml; 2 h). They were then separated and analyzed in 1% agarose gel electrophoresis. There were 90.1 ± 1.38 and 95.0 ± 1.04% inhibition of [3H]uridine incorporation into 28 and 18S ribosomal RNA, respectively.

The order of potency for the loss of nucleolar fluorescence and the concurrent increase in nucleoplasmic fluorescence was luzopeptin D> luzopeptin A> luzopeptin B≫ luzopeptin C, which correlates with the order of their 50% inhibitory concentration values for inhibition of [3H]uridine incorporation. With 34–55% inhibition of RNA synthesis, both nuclear and nucleolar B23 immunofluorescence were observed. With 70–85% inhibition of RNA synthesis, a uniform nucleoplasmic fluorescence was observed. These results indicate that translocation of protein B23 as observed by indirect immunofluorescence may be a rapid and simple screening test for the selection of antitumor agents which inhibit ribosomal RNA synthesis.

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